Wines of North East Italy

 Auronzo Dolomites

Veneto Region has many great wines both reds and whites. Venice’s Region has solidified its position as Italy’s largest producer and exporter, as well as the leader in volume of classified wines. Verona region produces the well-known trio of Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella, plus the very popular bubbly of Prosecco. Since DOC/DOCG represent a third of production. Veneto also produces and exports a good quantity of IGT wines, often at modest prices.

Veneto has three main area of production of premium wines: the Western province of Verona in the hills near Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the Central hills in the province of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the Eastern plains of the piave and Tagliamento river basin along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice. Four of the top ten wines in the DOC/DOCG appellation are found in Veneto by volume: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (Prosecco) fourth, soave fifth, Valpolicella sixth and Bardolino tenth.

Verona’s classic wines are made with native vines Soave. It is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also recommended. Soave Superiore and Recioto di Soave have been promoted to DOCG, while regular Soave remains DOC.

Valpolicella made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, is a hearty red to drink young. Grapes from the vineards in the hills north of Verona can be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella, both DOCG.

Amarone, amply structured red is long to the palate, is one of the favorite wines for aging the world over. Valpolicella Ripasso is a new DOC wine and is produced by the Ripasso Method, by which Valpolicella is fermented a second time with the pomice of Amarone oe Recioto to gain body and strength.

Bardolino, made from the basic grapes of Valpolicella grown along the shores of Lake Garda, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the red Superiore DOCG or the deep pink Chiaretto version. Treviso province is the source of the very popular Prosecco wine. Noe DOCG, a Cornegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco is a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly, whether frizzante or fully spumante. A refined version of Prosecco from the hills near Valdobbiadene is known as Superiore di Cartizze.

To help build the supply for a wine much in demand, Prosecco DOC has been created in parts of Veneto and nearby Friuli. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine, to build a market with Pinots and Chardonnay, made either by tank fermentation or the Metodo Classico , fermentation in the bottle.

Merlot and Cabernet Franc, have been the workhorse varieties of central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Souvignon, and age the wines in barrels to develop great style and complexity.

Pinot Grigio, Souvignon, and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions  but also as oak-aged wines of dept. Veneto shares six DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore and Prosecco with Friuli and Valdadige with Trentino. Once a year Verona hosts the largest wine expo in Italy called Vinitaly.

 

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The three northern regions of Italy are called “the Venezie” and set the standard in producing modern white and red wines of quality.  They use sophisticated methods to make both  types of wines.  After replacing Apulia and Sicily, Veneto leads the way as the largest producer of wine of all the twenty regions.  It produces large quantities of DOC wines do in part to Verona’s trio grapes of Soave, valpolicella and Bardolino. Friuli and Trentino produce limited quantities but boast enviable percentage of classified wines.
The determining factor for all three regions is the climate: cold in the Alps in the North and warm by Adriatic sea.
The valleys between the mountains along the Po, Piave, Adige and Tagliamento rivers are warm. Growers in Veneto work with an amazing assortment of native- autoctone – and imported vines to produce what indisputably are a majority of white wines and many reds, ranging from young and simple to aged and complex. This has contributed to the popularity after such whites around the world as Soave and Pinot Grigio.  But producers in Trentino and Friuli have created wines of depth and style to dispel the idea that Italian whites are by Nature light and fresh.  Veneto’s whites account for 55% of total production.
These wines are made from Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino grapes.  In central Veneto and Friuli, imported varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet and Pinots, including Chardonnay and Sauvignon grow side by side with the local varietals: Tocai, Prosecco,  Verduzzo, Refoso, Schioppettino,  Ribolla Gialla and Raboso.
In Trentino red wines still prevail  dominated by Schiava or Vernatsch,  though Teroldego,  Algerian and Marzemino hold their own against Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot noir.  The whites  prominent in Trentino are Chardonnay, pinot Grigio,  Sauvignon and Gewrztraminer.
Since so many varieties are grown in all three regions the practice has been to the wines under a single DOC name for a large geographical area: Veneto’s Piave, Friuli’s Collio and Colli Orienali and province-whide applications of Trentino and Alto Adige. Given it’s a long list but it seems to aide consumers to connect the wines with its territory.
Salute! Cheers!
(C)- Daniele Matteo,  2014.
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One comment to Wines of North East Italy

  • christina  says:

    Wonderful!

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